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A Speech Preprocessing Method Based on Overlap-Masking Reduction to Increase Intelligibility in Reverberant Environments

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The reproduction of speech over loudspeakers in a reverberant environment is often encountered in daily life, as for example, in a train station or during a telephone conference. Spatial reverberation degrades intelligibility. This study proposes two perceptually motivated preprocessing approaches that are applied to the dry speech before being played into a reverberant environment. In the first algorithm, which assumes prior knowledge of the room impulse response, the amount of overlap-masking due to successive phonemes is reduced. In the second algorithm, emphasizing onsets is combined with overlap-masking. A speech intelligibility model is used to find the best parameters for these algorithms by minimizing the predicted speech reception thresholds. Listening tests show that this preprocessing method can indeed improve speech intelligibility in reverberant environments. In listening tests, Speech Reception Thresholds improved up to 6 dB.

JAES Volume 65 Issue 1/2 pp. 31-41; January 2017
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AES - Audio Engineering Society